Preschool Primer: Mistakes to Avoid
~By Laura Gradman, founder, Chicago Preschool Pro
Does your heart start to palpitate every time you think about the preschool application process? If so, take a deep breath and remember this: you will not ruin your child’s life before kindergarten. Just check out this advice from Laura Gradman, LPC and founder of Chicago Preschool Pro. Her tips will have you cruising through the preschool admissions process in no time at all.
Mistake #1: Not applying
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my clients say that they love a school but that they aren’t going to apply because they are sure their child will never get in. Don’t be so sure, I say. Ask most admissions directors in Chicago and you will discover that there is no specific formula to determine who makes the cut. The ideal student body is comprised of children who are diverse from one another. In the end, it could come down to the date of your child’s birth or gender. The moral of the story is that if you don’t throw your hat in the ring you’ll never have a chance. So don’t underestimate yourself, your child, or the system. If you find a school you love, go for it. And if the school is on a lottery system, then it’s simply the luck of the draw.
Mistake #2: Tuning in to parking lot chatter
There’s (at least) one in every crowd: the person who claims she knows how many spots there are at any given school, whether the school is looking to fill them with boys or girls, and whether your child fits the bill. The truth is that unless that person is on the admissions committee, he or she doesn’t really know. Unfortunately, this chatter can get the best of us, especially when we’re feeling vulnerable already. Do your best to avoid letting it get to you and go through the admissions process with a positive attitude. Trust me, the more you are able to shut out the chitchat and focus on the task at hand, the happier you and your family will be.
Mistake #3: Choosing a school solely based on reputation
The most important aspect of the preschool process is research. After all, how can you make an informed decision without all of the information? Take your time. Network, tour the schools and ask pertinent questions. All of your legwork will pay off in the end. Experience the admissions process as an informed consumer and don’t forget to consider the most important person of all: your child. Not every school is right for each child, so always keep yours in mind as you go. Just because your neighbor loves her school doesn’t mean you will feel the same way. Make decisions based on what’s best for your family.
Mistake #4: Letting your anxiety spiral out of control
As parents, we believe that one wrong decision will ruin our children’s lives. And for many of us, not getting our child into the right preschool ranks up there with letting them play on their own in traffic. But before you hit the panic button, take a step back. Do your research, have an open mind, and always operate with your child’s best interest in mind. If you follow this simple advice, it’s virtually impossible for you to go wrong.
Laura Gradman is the founder of Chicago Preschool Pro, a service that helps families successfully navigate the preschool admissions process in Chicago. For more information, check out her website at ChicagoPreschoolPro.com.
[Photo credit: ChicagoNow]